MISSION NO. 32

NANCY/ESSEY, FRANCE

25 APRIL, 1944

Mannheim, Metz and Dijon-Longvic were principal targets for the Eighth Air Force, while the 94th Combat Wing went to Nancy/Essey Airfield. This field was used by the Germans for flying military personnel between France and Germany. It was also used as a training school for glider and fighter pilots.

The 457th supplied twenty-four planes comprising the high box of the 94th Combat Wing. The Group's leaders were Major Rod Francis as Air Commander and Lt. Edward R. Bender as pilot. Assembly and flight to the target were without incident. The target was obscured, and a 360 degree turn did not Solve the visibility problem. The secondary target was also obscured. A pre-selected airfield target of opportunity was visible but was not bombed. The Group was on a westward course and was in search for open targets, but none were found. The Group returned to the base without dropping bombs.

When the formation was about fifteen miles from the French Coast south of Le Havre, the lead craft, commanded by Major Rod Francis, suddenly burst into flames between the fuselage and the No. 3 engine. It swung out of formation, flew to the Channel, dropped bombs, did a 180 degree turn back to France and the crew bailed out. The craft went into a gentle gliding turn and disappeared into the undercast. Nine parachutes were positively counted with a possible tenth one observed. Major Rod Francis, Group Gunnery Officer Lt  Jack Hotaling, Navigators Earl E. Woodard and Arthur T. Cavanaugh, and Radio Operator, Sgt. Laymon M. Mahan, evaded capture and later returned to England.

(Compiler Note: For Sgt. Laymon Mahan account of evasion, see Chapter 19.)

The crew of Lt Edward R. Bender was lost on this date

Mission Loading List Template
CREW LOADING LIST

1944
Mission No 32   Target: Nancy/Essey, Fance


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